State Rep. Ezequiel Santiago Dies At 45–Rosario: He Was Everything To Me, A Brother, Mentor, Friend

Americo and Ezequiel Santiago

State Rep. Ezequiel Santiago, sitting, with his dad Americo who also represented the district in the State House.

Ezequiel Santiago, the genial Democratic State House member who represented Connecticut’s 130th District, died early Friday morning. He was 45 years old. Friends say he died from a heart attack.

Mayor Joe Ganim on Friday invited all city employees, state and community leaders to join him for a moment of silence at 4 p.m. in the lobby of the Margaret Morton Government Center on Broad Street.

“My sympathies go out to Ezequiel’s family. He was a dear man who will be missed by all who knew him. All of us in Bridgeport and across the state will feel the loss of his passing,” said Ganim.

Ezequiel Santiago had a passion for the City of Bridgeport and its residents that led him to be involved in various positions in government and community. He served as City Councilman for the 131st District, and most recently was our State Representative of the 130th District for more than ten years. Ezequiel was also an employee of the city of Bridgeport that was dedicated to working with youth members in the Conservation Corps.”

Governor Ned Lamont announced on Friday he is directing the flag of the State of Connecticut to fly at half-staff in honor of  Santiago, the son of Americo Santiago who also served Bridgeport in the State House.

“We were terribly saddened to learn this morning of the sudden passing of Representative Ezequiel Santiago, a man who truly loved public service and his hometown of Bridgeport,” said Lamont in a statement. “The State of Connecticut has lost an outstanding advocate, and our hearts are broken today as we mourn his loss. He was a devoted father, fighter for his community, and a dedicated public servant. Our prayers are with his family, friends, and constituents at this difficult time.”

Santiago with Conservation Corps.

Santiago this year was selected by his peers to serve as leader of Bridgeport’s legislative delegation. A former city councilman, Santiago’s district covers the South End, Downtown and portions of the East Side and West End. He also worked in the Public Facilities Department.

Santiago, flanked by Chris Rosario and former State Senator Ed Gomes.

“I’m completely floored,” said his friend State Rep. Chris Rosario. “In our last conversation (Thursday afternoon) he was in such good spirits talking about bills coming out of his committee. He seemed as healthy as an ox. He was everything to me, a brother, mentor and friend. He was knowledgeable, strong and effective. People are really mourning this lost on both sides of the aisle. They’ll never be another like him.”

Rosario said he believes Santiago died from a heart attack.

Santiago was low key, thoughtful and did not bring a lot of attention to himself. In the past two years he was one of the driving political forces in support of MGM’s ongoing proposal to build a waterfront destination at the Steelpointe Harbor redevelopment area that’s included in his district. Santiago was chair of the Banking Committee and also served on Appropriations and Commerce.

Santiago, left, with Mayor Joe Ganim and Congressman Jim Himes on site of old Congress Street Bridge.

Santiago speaking in support of increasing the state minimum wage.

Santiago biography from his State House page:

Ezequiel Santiago was born in Camden, New Jersey and raised in the south end of Bridgeport. He began his political career as a volunteer on his father Americo Santiago’s political campaigns for State Representative and Secretary of State, and assisting his step father, Mitch Robles with many local campaigns. His first election was for City Council for the 130th district representing the south end, lower eastside, hollow, and the downtown area and then followed by Town Committee Member of the 130th.

Ezequiel is a graduate of Gibbs College with a Certificate in Computer Technical Support. He worked four years as an Assistant Teacher for Head Start at Action for Bridgeport Community Development in Bridgeport, five years as a Computer Technical Support Representative for On Line Marketing supporting web hosting and email services, and two years as a Constituent Representative for the City of Bridgeport in the Fabrizi Administration. He is currently a City Stat Analyst for the City of Bridgeport. Ezequiel is a member of the Puerto Rican Day Directors.

As a City Councilman, Ezequiel served on the School Buildings, Education and Social Services, Economic Development and Environment, and Misc. Matters Committees. During his tenure as Councilman, he helped secure Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for the YMCA, South End Committee Center, and the Sheehan Center. Ezequiel addressed public safety issues working to close roads for walkers to Roosevelt School, removing No Parking signs for Seaside Village, and assisted in securing handicap designations in front of private residences.

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13 comments

  1. Ezequiel Santiago called me on Tuesday to ask for some assistance with a letter he was composing regarding Bassick High School.

    I told him I haven’t always agreed with you, however I do believe you are a good legislator. He said he really appreciated that. I replied with you know I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it. He chuckled and said everyone knows you only say what you mean.

    I let him know a third charter school in Bridgeport was placed on probation last week. He asked which one and I stated Great Oaks. I reminded him that we fought that school tooth and nail and that he committed to support an amendment to block it and then withdrew his support.
    He said ” I’ ve made mistakes but I am trying to do better.”

    He said the delegation was going to meet on the 16rh to discuss the strategy to get significantly more funding for the Bridgeport Public Schools. He said “I am going to fight for our kids.” I said “fight for our kids, Ezequiel.” I told him Thermal Loops and a Casino will never fix Bridgeport. Great public schools will.”

    We ended the call with him committing to fighting for every possible dollar for the BPS.

    This is a tragic loss on many levels. However, I am so thankful I had the opportunity to have this conversation before he passed.

    1. So sorry to get this news. My condolences to his family. I had just a few dealing with him and after a call to him about an issue coming to a vote I was surprised that he actually came to see me at my place of business. He had me explain the issue to him and he was shocked to hear that what had been told to him by ‘others’ was bad information. I followed how he voted on that issue and he did the right thing. Many other ‘politicians’ just give you lip service if anthing at all. He was a genuine guy.
      God bless.

  2. I am sadden today to hear of the passing of Rep Ezequiel Santiago. Many years ago his father Americo and myself served in the Legislature together. He would ride up to hartford with his dad and I. He was a child then.
    I can truly say he was like a son. Bridgeport has loss a great fighter and a great person! My thoughts and prayers are with his Family.

  3. OMG!!!! I’m shocked, Ezequiel was my State Rep. I enjoyed talking with him especially if I said something negative on OIB about a position that he might has taken, he would come up to me like a gentlemen when he would see me to talk about my comment and it was always engaging and friendly. This is truly a lost t his family, his friends, his district and to the City he will be missed.

  4. My lasting impression will be how Ezequiel eloquently and elegantly defended our Bridgeport delegation in a testy dust up with Senator Cathy Osten on the casino issue. He diffused the situation with grace. PACE!

  5. Recently we had some good conversation, generally about Bridgeport and representation at the State level, especially around the resource imbalance from the State of CT to our public school youth. He was knowledgeable, asked good questions in return, and was certainly too young to pass from the scene as a City activist. Perhaps his interested, intelligent, and active form of representation will inspire another activist to pick up his list of unfinished issues for those in his District? Time will tell.

  6. This is so sad for everyone , special for Bridgeport . He help me a lot with my Parents and Support me in my events in Bassick HIgh School . He was one of the first State Representative , inform that Bassick will be new for the best for our students of Bridgeport and the Community . I spoke with him last Tuesday to let them know my event for March , and he say he will be in my school , and look now , he is with GOD . When is GOD Decision is nothing what we can do , he know the reason why . But I know we will miss amazing friend , Leader and Father . R.I.P. Ezequiel Santiago and my condolences for his Daughter and the Family .

    Benejan Family .

  7. So very sad and shocked. State Rep. Santiago was a very kind and determined individual. He and Chris Rosario made an incredible team up at the state. Their support of the casino put the city in the
    Spotlight. I have never heard an unkind word out of his mouth. At 6:15,am I was told of his passing. I am still in shock. My thoughts and prayers are with Americo, Mitch, April and Michelle and the entire family as well as his many friends at City Hall, throughout the city and State. He will be missed. May Ezequiel Santiago’s memory be forever a blessing to all of us that knew and loved him. Rest forever in peace.

  8. *** Another sad day in March 2019 in Bpt. due to the passing of 2- community minded gentlemen that have left us far too soon in life. Two weeks ago, Mr. Anderson Ayala whom I sat on the city council with, passed & now another young man, Mr. Ezequiel Santiago whom took my place on the city council. I’ve known Checkie as he was called by his family & close friends since he was in grammer school. A pro-boxing enthusiast like myself & all around part-time sports fan. Always a quiet soft spoken gentleman, interested in helping people in his district & the residents of Bpt. in general after becoming a State Rep. People in general do not know what takes place in the world of politics good or bad, they only see & hear from out-side the political box, however many times its not accurate. Mr. Santiago was always pushing to learn more so he could do more through politics for the betterment of Bpt. & its residents. I am a better person today for knowing this young man from my district whom will be missed by many, including myself! Blessing’s & my condolences to his family & close friends; for my friend whom I’ve grown to love & will miss! ***RIP***

  9. Such a sad day for Bridgeport. Such a nice guy and gentleman… Whenever I encountered him he had a cheerful greeting and something positive to say. A capable and dedicated man that left this earth far too soon. A great loss for Bridgeport and a terrible loss for his family.
    My sincerest condolences to his family and close friends. RIP, Ezekiel…

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